The ecstacy of playing music

March 25, 2008

When a musician gets a new instrument they truly love, one that inspires him to WANT to play, it is very much like having a new lover — you just can’t get enough, so you keep playing. Such has been the case with my 1976 Feurich piano. It’s a 7’3″ grand piano made of [now illegal, sigh] Brazilian rosewood with keys made from one piece of ivory. We even decided to be a one car family in LA for 2 years so that we could afford it (now THAT is love!).

This came to mind as I watched a new film AUGUST RUSH, a drama with fairy tale elements, where an orphaned musical prodigy uses his gift as a clue to finding his birth parents. Part of the plot is a retelling of Oliver Twist story with Robin Williams as a kind of Fagin character, who inspires his boys to become great musicians. His favorite talent is the Oliver character, Evan Taylor (his stage name is August Rush), played here by Freddie Highmore. The video clip from the film below shows Evan’s first interaction with a guitar. The guitar technique he uses is one well known to fans of Michael Hedges who is credited on this film. The joy conveyed by Highmore here is one that musicians know and love. Many of us have had moments of musical ecstacy from time to time as both performer and listener, and this film reminded me of those thrilling moments.

I had an argument with the dude at the Blockbuster store about whether the movie is good or not. I told him it perhaps meant more to me as a musician. He then went on a motor-mouth review of the moment he turned the movie off, letting me know in no uncertain terms that this was not a good movie. I cut him off, thanked him and went home.

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